Fast forward to 2 days before what would have been our wedding anniversary and the kids’ college tuition is due, a deadline that night which sets us all on edge because a) we’re talking about money and b) because kid is doing this at last minute, and the numbers that are due aren’t adding up properly.
A text exchange, first one since 2019 begins with the ex and me. I send him info as I try to unravel Financial Aid, loans, amounts that aren’t credited properly, hoping to get the numbers right, get the tuition paid and get on with my night. At first, it’s a battle to mathematically unravel this mess. We are each typing the numbers and mathematical equations of 60/40 with the word ‘agreed?’ to punctuate one’s own correctness and to agree to this and let’s be done. On both of our parts. I admit. I was doing the same thing. The competition is palpable. A never-ending result in the demise of our over 20 year marriage.
He’s got a way of getting under my skin because when he’s in the mood, which is often, he’s ready to pounce on anything that’s remotely not detailed, exacting and correct in his favor. He questions everything I say, do, am. And I feel it. Right to my bare bones and I’m triggered immediately as he’s pushing my buttons. I feel myself beginning to spin like in the old days. He’s gaslighting me.
I take a deep breath and stop. I cease texting, but he’s continuing to push. “Agreed?” “Do you not think my numbers are right?” More menacing texts come as I remain silent trying to center myself. The numbers are not adding up on my end either. At least we’re in agreement for that. So I make the bold decision and pick up the phone. (yes, I called him). We hadn’t talked since I dragged his deadbeat self through the court system a few years ago after he owed me thousands of dollars and was refusing to pay his share of the kids’ expenses according to the divorce agreement.
He answers and a wave of hyper-vigilance ensues in my head along with the surprise of how strange he sounds. I take the lead and ask him for his help in figuring out these numbers which are really frustratingly difficult and considering it’s already 10:30pm, I’m too tired to deal with the whole thing by myself. So I invite the narcissist to help with the mathematical gymnastics because that gives him something to do besides berating me. And it works. Together, let me repeat that…TOGETHER…we figure it out – at least I think we did!
Of course by the time we do this, he’s also told me that he has to pay with a credit card as he doesn’t have any money (his constant excuse but with his high paying salary, I don’t know what he spends all his money on) and the website is only allowing one payer for the entirety as I can’t figure out how to add him in order for him to pay his portion. While there’s a rebate on the financial aid part, it’s easier if it’s me who pays the whole amount as I can get the refund faster because the kid is living with me. He says that he’ll pay me back if we don’t get the refund. Sorry. But I don’t trust him. I’m playing all nicey nice, but I don’t trust him at all. So in a joking manner I make him repeat that he’ll pay me what he owes if I pay the whole thing now while on speaker in front of our son. He doesn’t find me funny, but I do. Probably because he’s bilked me out of THOUSANDS and I’m calling him out quietly. Luckily I have every confidence that the rebate will come through which is the only reason I agree to paying it up front. Well, that and the kid is having a panic attack now because this is all last minute and he’s a mess (but that’s a post for another day).
After the payment part is complete, we end up on the phone talking for another hour. That’s a post for another day, but it’s interesting to say the least. We’ve come a long way.
I’VE COME A LONG WAY…so can you if you’re the ex-wife of a narcissist. There’s hope for us to see it clearly and still be able to manage when we have to deal with them…it does get easier…you just have to know how to navigate it.